This is Micah Lee's talk from the Aaron Swartz Day live event, November 7, 2015.
Complete Transcription via "OpenTranscripts.org" http://opentranscripts.org/transcript/micah-lee-aaron-swartz-day-2015/
Hello. I don’t have a whole lot to say.
When I was thinking
about what I would talk about last night, I was reading more about
Aaron. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him before he died, but I
realized that he passed away on January 11, 2013, and that was actually
the same day that I first heard from Edward Snowden.
At the time I
didn’t know that it was Edward Snowden. He was anonymous. He sent me an
email and it was encrypted. And he was trying to get Laura Poitras’ PGP key and he was saying that—you know, he couldn’t tell me what it was for but I should help Glenn Greenwald learn how to use PGP and it was important.
I helped out as I could, and it took several months. I kept talking to
Glenn and Glenn was into it, but he was also really impatient with
learning anything new on the computer and he didn’t really know
why it was so important. I didn’t really know why it was so important.
There were a couple of false attempts at teaching Glenn PGP, and finally
I had a Skype call with him where I helped him set up Pidgin
and off-the-record encryption. That was like, five and a half, six
months later after I first got that encrypted anonymous email from
Snowden. And that was the first time that Snowden was able to have a
secure conversation with Glenn Greenwald.
And I was thinking about
it. Aaron had already kind of done a lot of work to solve this problem.
The year, two years before Edward Snowden decided to start becoming a
whistleblower, Aaron had already done a lot of development work on
DeadDrop and was well on his way to making it so that rather than having
someone like Ed have to try and send a bunch of plaintext emails to
journalists he wants to talk to to convince them to learn how to use PGP
and stuff, he made it so that whistleblowers could talk to journalists
in less than six months. I think that was pretty amazing. And like what Garrett was saying
earlier, the core design of DeadDrop is still exactly the same in
SecureDrop, and that’s pretty amazing I think that he had such good
foresight to figure out what all these technical problems were and try
and solve them.
I guess the one thing is that SecureDrop has come a
very long way and it’s really easy to use for sources now. So now if
you’re a whistleblower and you want to leak documents, it’s really easy.
All you need to do is go and download Tor Browser, go to a web site,
click “I’m a new source,” and upload a document. Then you’re done,
and you don’t have to go through all of this having to be a technical
expert and having to train the journalists and all this stuff. But the
hard part is that it’s still not nearly as easy for journalists to use.
So, in fact, Glenn Greenwald doesn’t use SecureDrop himself. Instead,
other people who have more time and patience with technical stuff use it
and talk to him about it if there’s stuff for him.
still a lot more work to be done in this area, and I just really wish
that Aaron were still around to help with this, because I think that he
would contribute greatly on his project.